Unions Split on Obama Keystone Rejection

WASHINGTON—Union leaders split on President Barack Obama’s rejection of a federal permit to build the northern section of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.


Construction unions, including those whose leaders signed a Project Labor Agreement seven years ago with Keystone sponsor TransCanada to build the pipe with union labor, condemned his rejection. National Nurses United (NNU) supported him, even while restating it believes the pipeline harms the environment and public health. Obama said it did not.


In his rejection statement, Obama said Keystone’s northern section, which would run from the Albertan tar sands oil fields through six U.S. states to a terminal in Oklahoma, neither would create the jobs its backers claim nor bring the huge climate destruction its foes fear.


However, he rejected Keystone XL because it could cause an increase in the carbon emissions that lead to global warming, and that its approval would be wrong in advance of a December worldwide summit in Paris, to hammer out next steps on carbon controls.


Laborers President Terry O’Sullivan, whose union was one of the PLA signers, called Obama’s decision “shameful” and said Obama threw blue-collar workers “under the bus” while “kowtowing to green-collar elitists.” The decision process of “cowardly delay” was “far dirtier” than Keystone’s – or any pipeline’s – oil. Keystone would have carried 830,000 barrels daily.


“This important decision will protect thousands who would face significant health hazards from the transport and refining of the dangerous tar sands oil Keystone was proposed to carry, and it adds momentum to the fight against the harmful effects of climate change,” retorted NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.


But Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades – the old AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department – called Obama’s anti-Keystone decision “insidiously craven.” Since Obama took office, he added, workers have built the equivalent of 10 Keystone XLs, in mileage, within the U.S., without a peep of protest from the president.


Source: PAI

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